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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Women to answer ‘urgent call’ for industrial vocations

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

The Jenkins Institute, the YMCA’s vocational school, opened its doors to women for the first time in its history.

The school would begin training women in industrial vocations, to replace men who had been called away to the war.

“There is an urgent call from the railroads for trained telegraph operators, a branch of railroad service which women are entering more and more,” said the YMCA’s general secretary. “Since the Jenkins Institute has one of the strongest telegraphy schools in the country, we decided to admit women as a patriotic service.”

The instructor would be Mrs. M. Best, who had worked as a train dispatcher for 17 years in Kansas City.

Women would also be trained in the institute’s “gas engine school.”

From the labor beat: In a related development, the state’s labor unions were asking for a higher minimum wage for women workers, from $10 a week to $12 a week. Advocates said that the current scale was based on 1914 prices, and that the cost of living had skyrocketed on account of the war.

From the nursing beat: Inez Beals had graduated from the nursing school at Deaconess Hospital several years earlier. When the war broke out, she immediately enrolled to be a Red Cross nurse.

However, there was an age limit, and she was too young.

But now she had reached her “coveted milestone” birthday (her exact age was never specified in the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s story) and she was immediately sent her Red Cross orders. She said she was “immensely pleased.”

“They want me now and I will leave tonight for San Francisco where I will receive further orders,” she said.

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